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Sen. Loren Legarda asserted the need for adaptation programs on rice amidst threats on low food production caused by climate change.

“If we do not invest on climate change adaptation programs now, rice yield in the Philippines can decline by 75 percent in 2100, as shown by a 2009 study of the Asian Development Bank,” Legarda said during the opening of the Rice, Biodiversity and Climate Change: Celebrating the National Year of Rice exhibition at the National Museum, Dec. 17.

Legarda, chair of the senate committee on climate change, noted that the typhoons, floods, and droughts from 1970 to 1990 resulted in an 82.4 percent production loss in the country`s total rice production.

“We especially feel the urgency of providing rice to calamity survivors, like what happened after the wrath of super typhoon Yolanda. [Indeed, investment on rice means] investing on the very survival of the Filipino people,” she said.

As patron of the exhibit, Legarda emphasized the importance of relating rice production with climate change and biodiversity as only two of the 20 rice species are being cultivated, which may endanger other varieties and the plants and animals living in rice environments.

“[As] rice is central to our lives…we need to take aggressive and immediate action to adapt to the changing climate and prevent further rise in global temperature. We also need to sustain and protect [the lives intertwining with production],” she said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Eduardo Jimmy Quilang, deputy director for development of the Philippine Rice Research Institute said that the exhibit at the National Museum also aims to mold the children to be more responsible citizens of the future.

“The moment children learn to command value and respect even to a small and ordinary object such as the grain of rice, that`s when wisdom starts to take root in their hearts. Most importantly, if they learn to command value and respect to such small and ordinary object such as rice, how much more would they do for the other big things in life,” he said.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute